I have been associated with athletics at The College of William and Mary in a variety of ways (e.g., student, alum, season ticket holder and a six-month stint as director of special events) for almost 60 years. I certainly would rather see Tribe teams win than lose.
In all that time, however, I have been just as proud of how the college manages a program where the term “student athlete” is not an oxymoron as I have been of the win-loss record. Every Tribe coach with whom I have been associated has excelled at helping young men and women develop into valuable members of society. Tony Shaver is no exception.
An item in the March 30 Last Word grossly understated his accomplishment by dismissing him as a sub-500 coach. In order to appreciate Coach Shaver's accomplishments during his 16 years, one has to place his record in context. When he assumed the position of head coach, the program was a disaster in terms of wins and losses: There had been one winning season in the previous 16 years.
During Coach Shaver's tenure, there have been seven — including five of the past six. He inherited a team severely lacking in talent. While it is true that his career record at W&M is 226-268, a percentage of .457 — 42 games under .500v— 40 of those 42 came during his first three years. It is worth noting that the winning percentage for the entire history of Tribe basketball is .468.
In any event, with the exception of a blip in the 2010-2011 season, Coach Shaver has steadily built a program that is among the most respected in the CAA. Over the past six years, his teams have won more CAA games than any other conference member. The accolades, both athletic and academic, his players have received are far too numerous to list.
While it is true that 2018-2019 was a disappointment, his team won 10 CAA games for the sixth straight year. No other conference member can make that claim. Moreover, with the return of six of the top seven players, the eligibility of a 7-foot-tall transfer and the promise of another good recruiting class, there was every reason to expect the 2019-20 would be a season for the record books. Coach Shaver deserved the chance to lead that team.
Now those bright prospects are in danger of disappearing. The team's best player is considering leaving for the NBA. Several others have entered their names in the NCAA's transfer portal and therefore may leave for other schools. It is beyond belief that Coach Shaver's firing did not play a role in these decisions.
In short, Coach Shaver was the perfect fit for the quality program, which has been the goal of W&M athletics for as long as I remember. I think it unlikely that we will see his equal anytime soon.